Adastral Park: Premier League football helps drive 9% rise in annual profits at BT
PUBLISHED: 12:04 08 May 2014
BT’s first season showing Premier League football helped the group deliver a better-than-expected annual profits boost today after its consumer revenues grew for the first time in a decade.
The telecoms giant, which paid £738million last year to show 38 games a season for three years, also said it had added 170,000 retail broadband customers in the first three months of this year.
Adjusted profits before tax rose by a better-than-expected 9% to £901million for the year to March 31, while underlying revenues across the group grew by 0.5%.
Revenues from the consumer arm, which includes the home telephone business as well as broadband packages with free access to BT’s sports channels, grew by 4% to £4.02billion.
For the fourth quarter, revenues were up 9% at £1.07bn, driven by 24% growth from broadband and BT’s TV platform.
Chief executive Gavin Patterson, unveiling his first set of annual results as BT boss, announced a 15% increase in the group’s full-year dividend and said this was now expected to increase by 10% to 15% in each of the next two years.
He said: “We have made strong progress this year. BT Sport has proved very popular and we are delighted the service is now in around five million homes. These results provide a strong platform for growth, from which to achieve our outlook for the years ahead.”
BT, which has its main research and development facility at Adastral Park, near Ipswich, said it added 46,000 customers to its TV platform in the final quarter, bringing the total to 1m. Other BT Sport viewers watch by satellite, online or through separate platforms that buy the service in wholesale deals.
Meanwhile, the group took the number of high-speed fibre broadband customers to more than 2.1m.
BT also announced that a roll-out of its fibre network, which can be used by it and other internet providers, has reached more than 19m homes and businesses, meaning around two-thirds of UK premises can access a much faster service.
Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, said: “Strong fourth-quarter numbers added to what had already been an impressive showing from BT.”
The company recently announced that for a second season from this year Premier League games will be available free for broadband customers.
BT has also won the UK rights to show Champions League and Europa League matches, after paying almost £900m to show both Uefa competitions for three seasons from 2015-16.
Latest trading figures from BSkyB showed it added 74,000 new TV customers in the first three months of this year.